Taliban captures key Afghan border-crossing with Pakistan: Officials

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On Wednesday, the Taliban said they had captured the strategic border crossing of Spin Boldak along the frontier with Pakistan, continuing sweeping gains made since foreign forces stepped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan, International media reported quoting officials.

As per a report by news agency AFP, the interior ministry insisted the attack had been repelled and government forces had control, but a Pakistan security source said the Taliban’s white flag was flying over the town.

The situation on the ground could not immediately be verified, but social media was abuzz with pictures of Taliban fighters looking relaxed in what appeared to be the frontier town.

If confirmed, the taking of Spin Boldak would be the latest in a string of border crossings and dry ports seized by the Taliban in recent weeks, with the insurgents looking to choke off much-needed revenue from the government in Kabul while also filling their own coffers, the report said.

Its seizure follows days of heavy fighting across Kandahar province, where the government was forced to deploy commando fighters to prevent the fall of the provincial capital even as the insurgents inched closer to taking the frontier crossing.

The report quoting the statement said insurgent spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured traders and residents there that their “security is guaranteed”. But Afghan officials insisted they still had control.

“The terrorist Taliban had some movements near the border area… The security forces have repelled the attack,” Afghanistan’s interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian was quoted by AFP as saying.

The particular border crossing is arguably one of the most strategically valuable for the Taliban.

It provides direct access to Pakistan’s Balochistan province — where the insurgents’ top leadership has been based for decades — along with an unknown number of reserve fighters who regularly enter Afghanistan to help bolster their ranks, the news agency report said.

Balochistan is also a favoured destination for fighters regularly heading for medical treatment and hosts many of their families.

A major highway leading from the border connects to Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi and its sprawling port on the Arabian Sea, which is considered a linchpin for Afghanistan’s billion-dollar heroin trade that has provided a crucial source of revenue for the Taliban’s war chest over the years.


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